"There will always be a mysterious hunger for gathering in a room, breathing the same air and sharing a communal experience." Michael Maggio, associate artistic director of the Goodman Theatre, believes the live performance arena fulfills our primal need to gather in a group. At the same time, he views it as a glorious journey across a stratified expanse of language. "I still love to spend an evening luxuriating in the language of a play," he says with heartfelt intensity.
So it comes as no surprise that Maggio is directing the world premiere of Rebecca Gilman's latest multi-tiered drama, Boy Gets Girl running through April 8 on the Goodman mainstage. The Chicago-based playwright has garnered much critical acclaim for her insight into capturing intricate nuances of dialect while examining all sides of a controversial issue.
In Boy Gets Girl, a casual blind date turns into one woman's stalking nightmare. Gilman explores sexual politics and sexual outlets through the lead reporter character, her duplicitous date, assorted news room co-workers and even a director of low-budget sexploitation films.
"What's so fascinating about Rebecca," shares Maggio, "is her ability to take a subject that can be reduced to movie-of-the-week material, then delve very deeply and treat the echoes or reverberations of a situation. She also has a terrific ear for dialogue. The words sit very easily in the actors' mouths." The director was impressed with Gilman's Spinning Into Butter, a brutally frank drama about confronting racism, when it premiered last season at the Goodman studio. It will debut at New York's Lincoln Center Theater this summer. He hopes to continue this intellectually fulfilling collaboration.
Dedicated to nurturing up-and-coming artists, Maggio has been a longtime associate professor of theater at the Theatre School of DePaul University and directed several student productions. Last July, he was appointed Dean of the Theatre School and is in the process of adding "more rigorous" theater studies programs, including a dramaturgy major. The university is now engaged in four faculty searches to broaden the scope of the curriculum, especially in the areas of world and minority theater.
Early last year, Maggio directed a Goodman production of Waiting for Godot with a racially diverse cast to reflect the community at large. "I was intrigued with the notion of putting actors in touch with a different cultural background," he says. "This is also my way of combating the fact that certain classic plays are denied to actors of color."